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Scotland’s newest bishop passes away weeks before ordination

Bishop Mitre

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J-P Mauro - published on 04/15/24

Fr. Martin Chambers is remembered for his dedication to his missionary work in Ecuador, where the trust he established continues to serve the poor.

The priest selected to lead the Diocese of Dunkeld, Scotland, as its new bishop passed away in his sleep just weeks before his ordination. Bishop-Elect Martin Chambers was found dead in his home on April 10, 2024

The Diocese of Dunkeld is still reeling as news of Fr. Chambers’ passing comes while they were still preparing for his April 27 episcopal ordination. While the cause of death has not yet been released, The Tablet reports that Fr. Chambers passed away suddenly overnight. Prior to his death, he was believed to be in good health, with no long standing medical conditions

News of Fr. Chambers’ passing was announced by Bishop Frank Dougan, of Galloway, who recalled the priest’s work with the Missionary Society of St. James in Ecuador, from 2004 to 2009. Bishop Dougan said that Fr. Chambers exemplified the personal qualities of “love, enthusiasm, humor and a deep faith which enlivened all that he did.”

In 2006, Fr. Chambers established the “Martin Chambers Ecuador Trust,” which continues to support those who live in the poorest areas of Ecuador with food programs, educational initiatives, and various charitable works. The organization’s website documents the charity work it has completed over the years, from building churches and schools to feeding the hungry in its soup kitchens. 

Fr. Chambers prized his time as a missionary, vowing on his appointment as a bishop to be a “missionary disciple” that would “sit in prayer as a Disciple at the feet of Jesus, listening to his voice calling me forward in faith.” 

A first-hand account of Fr. Chambers’ missionary work remains on the Trust’s website, in which the priest recalled his first impressions of missionary life. He wrote: 

“Slowly but surely, though, we left behind the wealthy areas and began to see the poorer areas – bamboo houses clinging to the side of the mountainside. And, as we turned off the motorway into our area, there were thousands upon thousands of people swarming around the market streets. We passed through a makeshift marketplace where people had simply set up a table to sell whatever they could. And over the whole sector, in the searing heat of Guayaquil was the smell of rotten food. 

“However, as I looked out over Tom’s parish – with bamboo houses as far as the eye could see – I was very glad. This was the poverty I expected. It was the type of place my family were expecting me to come to. But, more than anything, I realized that this was to be my home for five years. 

“Finally I was a missionary and living in a shanty town. It had been a long process to get to this point and I had had many moments of doubt and fear. Yet at this moment, as I looked out on my first night in the shanty, I could sense the gentle voice of God calming my fears and saying that this was where he wanted me to be.”

While the date and location of Fr. Chambers’ funeral has yet to be announced, the Diocese of Dunkeld held a Mass to celebrate the life of Fr. Martin Chambers on April 12 at St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Dundee.

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